Orlando City continued its road success with a huge 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Sunday evening.
Rookie Cyle Larin was the hero of the day, netting his first professional goal in his first ever MLS start. Kaká added the second from the penalty spot in the 85th. The game was physical at times, but Aurelien Collin and Amobi Okugo stepped up as enforcers for the Lions.
Orlando came out in something like a 4-3-2-1 formation, with Cristian Higuita getting a start in the midfield. The continued formation tinkering hasn't seemed to bother the Lions much, as the offense still controlled possession and moved the ball forward through Kaká.
Lions Head Coach Adrian Heath also got more great play from his fullbacks, as Rafael Ramos played well on the right, and Brek Shea was again exceptional on the left. Donovan Ricketts had his best game for the Lions as well, shutting out the Timbers and making a few great saves in the process.
Here are our player grades for the Lions' 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers:
G, Donovan Ricketts, 8 -- A well-earned shutout for the Jamaican keeper, playing against his former team. He made great saves on Nagbe at 18', and then another on Asprilla in the 71st. He was also strong in the air throughout. His best match as a Lion.
D, Brek Shea, 7.5 -- Another great match for Shea. He was forward constantly, but actually did particularly well shutting down Asprilla and Nagbe on the defensive end. He was unlucky not to earn an assist when he set Molino up in the 13th minute. It's only a matter of time before he gets on the score sheet for Orlando.
D, Seb Hines, 7.5 -- It was an active night for Hines. He was inconsistent at times, but he had three huge blocks including a lunging, desperation block on Fanendo Adi in the 68th minute. His last-ditch defending may well have preserved the win for the Lions.
D, Aurelien Collin, 8 -- The match was physical from the early going, and Collin rose to the occasion. The Lions are a smaller team and have already earned a bit of a reputation for soft play, but the Frenchman was having none of it today. Was absolutely dominant in the air all day long.
D, Rafael Ramos, 6.5 -- A quieter night for Ramos, but still a good one. He was solid on defense and did manage to get forward on occasion. He showed his incredible motor and stamina by sprinting the length of the field to get back on defense in the 90th minute.
MF, Darwin Ceren, 6.5 -- With three holding midfielders in the 4-3-2-1 formation, Ceren was given more freedom to get forward in attack. He failed to get any shots off, but he did flash some ability in the offensive end.
MF, Amobi Okugo, 7 -- Another solid performance from the midfielder. He adjusted well to the formation shift, and provided some physicality as well. He rarely ventures out of the middle third of the pitch, but his constant cycling of the ball is essential in freeing up Kaká and Molino. He also had a sliding block on another Adi shot at 68'.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 4.5 -- A very quiet night for Higuita, who was subbed off for Eric Avila in the 70th minute. He really failed to involve himself at all, and his one shot was miles over the bar. Perhaps he's still shaking off the rust after missing a few matches with a hamstring issue.
MF, Kaká, 6.5 -- Still the catalyst for Orlando City's offense, but not the best night for the Brazilian. He failed to put any shots on target, and his passing was uncharacteristically bad on occasion. He did score the penalty kick, though, to be fair, it took him two tries.
MF, Kevin Molino, 5.5 -- The Trinidadian gets some credit for his assist on the Larin goal, but really did not play well at times. He was set up by Shea for what looked like an easy goal in the 13th minute, but his hesitation allowed a Portland defender to block his shot.
F, Cyle Larin, 7 (Man of the Match) -- A first ever MLS start, and a first ever MLS goal! Larin was not spectacular, but his intensity up top added a new element for Orlando City. His chested goal was creatively taken and proved to be the winner for the Lions.
MF, Eric Avila, 6 -- Avila doesn't do anything incredible, but his motor and composed play are clearly important to Heath. He entered for Higuita in the 70th minute, and he was able to help Orlando slow down the game and hold on for the victory.
F, Carlos Rivas, 7.5 -- Adrian Heath gets coaching kudos for this sub! Rivas came on for Larin in the 82nd minute, when Portland was pressing to equalize. His speed caused immediate problems for the Timbers, and he earned the PK just a minute after entering, when Kwarasey was forced to bring him down in the area.
It's a great night to be an Orlando City fan! Thoughts on our grades? As always, let us know in the comment section!